Thursday, January 30, 2014


This. Was. So. Good.
...If I might say so myself!
We made this in my culinary class today, to practice our knife skills! As you can see, there is lots of slicing and dicing to be done, so make sure you have nice sharp knives before making this one. It'll make things go much easier!

We each were cooking a batch for just ourselves, so this recipe only made about 2.5 cups, which might be either two "side dish" servings, or 1 big, single serving.


1 medium onion, diced
1/2 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 small eggplant, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced
1 plum tomato, diced
2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
Black Pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Cooking Method

Heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil in pan.
Add eggplant. Sprinkle pinch of salt. Sauté. Add a drizzle of oil as it dries up. Cook to brown.
Remove eggplant from pan. Add another drizzle of oil as needed to prevent burning and sticking. Add bell pepper and onion. Sprinkle salt. Sauté and cook until browned. 
Add zucchini. Cook for several minutes. May want to add a little more oil again. 
Add garlic to side of pan. Tilt pan so that oil pools over garlic and sautées for a minute, just until fragrant and barely browned. 
Mix garlic into other vegetables in pan. Cook several more minutes.
Add tomatoes, eggplant, and deglaze pan with about 1/2 cup water. Season with pepper. Stir and let simmer until juices are just nearly reduced completely. (Can be repeated with the water to make vegetables stew longer and become even softer)
Add parsley. Cook another minute. Taste, and adjust seasoning. 
Serve hot! 


A number of other yummy veggies could be substituted as well! Adding mushrooms (eg. assorted, button, shittake, portobella) would be really good too. Try experimenting and see what works well together--that's always been the fun part of cooking to me! 
Just remember to cook similarly textured veggies together (eg. Crunchy, juicy onions and bell peppers cook at about the same rate, whereas eggplant and zucchini are softer and will cook faster)

When multiplying this recipe to serve more people, you may have to work in batches--make sure the veggies aren't overcrowded for best results--too much at one time will keep it from browning as well...cook only enough to cover the bottom of the skillet at a time.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Macaroni and Vegan Vegetable-Cashew "Cheeze" sauce

Today I tried a recipe from called Vegan Mac N' Cheese.

I'm usually intrigued when I find a vegan "cheese" recipe, wondering how it could possibly compare to dairy cheese. So, upon tasting the sauce, it didn't make me think of cheese, but the words, "wow" and "yum" definitely came to mind!! I hope people who are not vegan will still try this recipe because they would be missing out on something really rather interesting!

Here is the link to the recipe:

The only things I changed were:

  • used the earth balance in making the sauce instead of with the bread crumbs
  • used gluten free panko crumbs for the topping
  • used gluten free brown rice pasta
  • used coconut milk original instead of almond milk 

I also used a bit more veggies than the recipe called for, and so I ended up with A LOT of sauce (about 3.5 cups or so). I only used about 1 cup with the pasta, and put the rest in an ice cube tray to freeze (it was a bit tricky getting these out might help to line the tray with plastic wrap to help pop them out, or maybe make sure to use a flexible tray because mine is rather rigid and difficult enough to bend to get ice out). 

One last note... I found that the taste was much more flavorful BEFORE, so I actually would recommend just using this sauce as soon as you make it, because it's amaaazing! (Baking dried it out quite a bit, and made me inclined to add some salt).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sorry, not better than ricotta

Though I don't necessarily miss dairy that much since choosing to eliminate it from my diet (health reasons), finding substitutes, for when I want to make something that calls for some kind of cheese product, has proven to be rather...annoyingly challenging. Generally, I don't try to bother with "faux cheeses" because many are laden with stabilizers & fillers that I would rather go without when possible, but even more so, most nondairy products I've tried are just not that tasty.

All that being said, I was recently thinking about how I used to like mixing ricotta with fruit preserves or cinnamon, or a little honey & lemon juice, and spreading it on toast or graham crackers. So, on my last trip to the grocery store, I found Tofutti's "Better than Ricotta," and decided to try it out. Unfortunately, I found it quite dry and crumbly (similar to regular dairy ricotta firmly packed and with all the whey drained). I should mention that it's really not that terrible tasting (rather plain, neutral), but the texture is in desperate need for improvement. I was disappointed because I was expecting something spreadable, not crumbly like a block of feta cheese.

Anyways, for breakfast today I ended up blending the stuff with some strawberry preserves and sliced almonds, and it did help make this spreadable, so I ate it with some homemade gluten free bread. Not bad, but not great. Not better than real ricotta!

However, stuck with a whole pint of this stuff, I wondered how others use this and make it more palatable. I'll need to do more searching for recipes, but I did come across a potentially helpful site that reviews vegan products, and thought I would share it here: 

If anyone reading this has recipe ideas, please share! :) 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dill pepperoncini tuna salad

This was such a pleasant change from the common mayo & celery type tuna salad! I will definitely be making this again, since it's so easy and quick to put together!

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Makes about 2 cups, or four 1/2 cup servings 
10 min prep. time


  • 10 ounces (white solid albacore) tuna in water, well drained
  • 2 scallions washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 6 pepperoncini peppers, stems and seeds removed,  julienne-cut
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (I used 3 tsp dried)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts*
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil **
  • 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or more to taste
  • 1/4 (to 1/2 teaspoon) freshly ground black pepper


Whisk olive oil, Dijon and whole grain mustards, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, lemon juice, and dill together in bowl. Toss with tuna, scallions, pepperoncini, and pine nuts in a non-reactive bowl. 

Serving suggestions: Wrap in butter or Bibb lettuce, in whole wheat pits pocket, or whatever other cracker, bread, etc you prefer! 

Original recipe notes: This can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.

Other notes:

*To toast pine nuts:
Heat nuts in single layer in small pan on the stove top, over medium high heat. Watch closely, stir/toss every 30 sec or more if needed, to avoid burning the nuts. Remove from heat when golden. 

**original recipe used 1/4 cup EVOO

Maki sushi

So... This year started with my first homemade veggie-filled sushi rolls... And since I bought a package of nori with 10 sheets in it, not really thinking about how quickly I would need to use it before it absorbed moisture and became stale or unusable...  Well, that led to what has felt like a LOT of sushi rolls this month! Today I finally finished off the last roll, and needless to say, as yummy as they were, I don't think be making these again for quite a while!

Sweet potato, cucumber, & avocado for New Years Eve dinner
Sushi overload!

Carrot, avocado, and ginger

To make Sushi rice: 
These quantities makes enough rice to make 5 rolls. Though I didn't really measure it, it ends up being about 3-4 cups cooked. I used about a 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of rice per roll.
  • 1 cup sushi rice (short grain white, sticky)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • Seasoned rice vinegar

Directions: Add rice and water to a pot on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, and cover. Cook for 20 min. (Make sure heat is low enough so the rice won't burn on the bottom; it will stick, but you shouldn't need to stir the rice at all) Remove from heat and let stand, covered for additional 10 min. (This finishes cooking the rice by steaming and will also release any rice stuck to the bottom of the pot). Fluff with fork; drizzle about 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar over rice and mix to distribute.

To make the rolls, I used:
  • 8x7" sushi nori sheets
  • Assorted vegetables, julienne-cut
  • Sushi rolling mat

If you check out Allrecipes' YouTube channel, they have a great tutorial video for assembly (I found it much easier to watch how to do this instead of reading instructions):

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Baked quinoa carrot oatmeal with raisins and walnuts

Yes, it sort of looks like bird food, as a friend of mine had commented to me, BUT it is tasty, and the texture is more interesting than plain ol' oatmeal.

This was adapted from "baked carrot cake oatmeal."
Here's how to make it:

Preheat oven to 350 deg. 
Grease a 9x13" baking pan.

Blend together until well combined:

   • 2 eggs*
   • 1/2 cup puréed fruit (pear or apple sauce)
   • 1 cup flax milk (or any milk of your choice)
   • 2 tbsp canola oil (might be able to use avocado here instead)
   • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (not packed)

Whisk together:

   • 2 cups rolled oats**
   • 1/2 cup puffed millet
   • 2 tsp baking powder
   • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
   • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
   • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir in:

1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup raisins

Mix well.

Spread into baking pan.
Bake for 30 min. 


*Vegan egg substitute: 
1 "egg" = 3 tbsp hot water + 1 tbsp ground flax seed

**The original recipe called for 3 cups of oats (no millet or quinoa), but I didn't have that, so I threw in the puffed millet and quinoa that I had on hand instead.